When you have a job that requires small, precise cuts, a chop saw is often the ideal cutting device. These precision saws offer you the ability to make accurate right angle cuts in a variety of materials such as lumber, decking, molding, trim, aluminum, and some metals.
Using a chop saw is quite flexible, as with the right saw blade, these saws can be used to cut a variety of different material types.
Cutting Metal: This is the tool of choice for cutting metal. You can also cut aluminum and non-ferrous metals as well as lumber and timber. Decking is also a good material choice to cut with a chop saw.You are only limited by the blade force and what material dimensions your chop saw will accept.
Multiple Precise Cuts: Keep in mind that because a chop saw only cuts right angles, you can create a series of precision cuts very quickly. Your chop saw is always ready to make the cut and with some small adjustments, you can work very quickly through a project that only requires right angle cuts.
Large Diameter Pieces: A chop saw is not a good saw for cutting large diameter wood pieces such as plywood. This is far too large for a chop saw, and it will never balance properly with the fences. You'd prefer a suitable band saw or even a basic table saw for this type of cut.
Baseboard: A common area of confusion is that a chop saw can be used for cutting baseboard, which is not the case. Because base board needs to be cut at 45 degree angles, you’ll need a miter saw for that.
A chop saw is the perfect tool to make fast, accurate cuts. While it is limited in the angle of cutting it can do, and also limited in the size of material it can cut, it is the best tool to use for cutting long, thin boards, pipe, or metal.
It is important that you understand how to use a chop saw and the differences in it compared to a miter saw. Many people refer to miter saws and chop saws interchangeably, because both saws use an overhead cutting process. The main difference between a chop saw and miter saw is in the flexibility of cuts that each saw can make.
While you may think that you are limited in some capacity with a chop saw, it actually becomes quite handy as you are always set up to make the same, 90 degree cut. Plus, it is a good beginner saw because you only have to worry about one angle of cut and fewer mistakes will be made as a result.
Because the blade is exposed in a chop saw, you need to take extra precautions to remain safe and free of injury when using it.
The beauty of the chop saw can also cause it to be more dangerous: using a chop saw is highly efficient and fast, which can create complacency and lead to dangerous mistakes
Before you can begin cutting with your chop saw, you need to find a blade for your specific project. When picking a chop saw blade, you need to consider:
For example, you would need a different blade rating for cutting metal than you would for cutting wood. Using the wrong blade type will cause dulling quickly and prevent you from getting a perfect cut with your chop saw. Sometimes, the wrong blade will make it so that you can’t even cut your material.
Related: The Guide to Band Saw Blades
Your saw blade is the essential piece of your chop saw. This really defines what you can cut and how well it will be cut.
Chop saw blades are circular and come in a variety of teeth patterns depending on the material they are rated for. You need to makes sure you select a blade that is specifically for the material you are planning to cut:
Once you have determined what blade you need, it needs to be placed on the head of your chop saw carefully and securely. Follow the directions that were provided by the manufacturer of your saw.
Once you’ve ensured you’re using the correct blade, and you have the proper safety precautions, you’re ready to measure your material and prepare the chop saw for cutting. Proper preparation will help ensure you make accurate cuts and don’t have to redo any of your work.
Before you start cutting, you need to prep your material that you want to cut. There are two steps you need to take: measuring the length and marking for the cut.
When done, you should have a straight line running across your material. You will be cutting using the chop saw along this line.
To ensure you cut on the mark that you have set for your material, you need to use the chop saw fences. These fences are there to create a guide for the blade and to secure your material in place.
As you adjust the angle of cut, you’ll notice the blade and base rotate into position to the make the angle cut.
Check that you have dialed in the correct angle of cut by slowly moving the chop saw blade down onto your marking without the blade operating. This will show you where the line of cut will occur. The chop saw blade should line up exactly with the marks you made on the surface of your material to be cut.
If your blade is not perfectly on the marks, adjust the setting until you dial in your cut line properly. Check the alignment again by pulling your chop saw blade manually down on the mark. Continue this process until you have achieved the precise alignment you need to make the cut with your chop saw.
Once you’ve ensured you’re using the correct blade, and you have the proper safety precautions, you can start using your chop saw. Cutting with a chop saw is very easy, which is why we highly recommend it as a beginner woodworking saw.
If you see signs of a jagged or rough cut, this is an indication that you might need a new chop saw blade. Replace the blade and try your cut again.
The chop saw is a staple tool to have in your garage. It allows you to make fast, accurate cuts across a variety of materials. It is also one of the most precise tools, and is easier to use than many other saws because of the way it makes its cuts.
Understanding how to use a chop saw doesn’t have to be difficult if you follow these steps as you work. Each time that you use your chop saw, you will feel more comfortable and be able to get those accurate right angle cuts with ease.
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